Pastors rallying for Medicaid get criminal charges, but not Missouri’s governor
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens addresses the media on the steps of the Civil Court building on Monday, May 14, after the case against him was dismissed. | J.B. Forbes / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

The “oh, shit” hammer just keeps pounding away, day after day, here in Missouri.

Each blow slowly obliterating voters’ hopes that the scumbag, ex-Navy Seal-for-rent Republican governor, Eric Greitens, will face justice and the death of his political career.

With last Monday’s announcement that St. Louis City Prosecutors had dropped the felony charge of invasion of privacy, Greitens was left facing a second criminal charge, in addition to impeachment—but that was then. When it comes to politics, things always change quickly.

Cole County prosecutor Mark Richardson announced late Friday that his office would not pursue a criminal case against Greitens’s use of his ex-charity’s donor list for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign.

And there it is, this sanctimonious politician has now gotten away with two criminal acts at the expense of his sexual assault victim, veterans, and donors to his charity—and the good people of Missouri.

You won’t find a long-winded, legalese explanation as to why the charges won’t be pursued, just three sentences found on a link added to the prosecutor’s website:

“This office has been provided information by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office about that agency’s investigation into the Governor’s gubernatorial campaign. After due consideration, I have decided not to file the criminal charge suggested by the AGO. My office has no further comment on this matter.”

Mary Compton, spokesperson for the attorney general, said that AG Hawley stood by his belief that a crime may have been committed.

“Prosecuting Attorneys have the discretion whether to pursue criminal charges, but this office stands by its determination that the information provided supports a determination of probable cause,” said Compton.

Hawley launched his investigation of Greitens in February after a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revealed Greitens may have filed false campaign fundraising reports.

During an investigation into Greitens’s charity, The Mission Continues, Hawley’s office found “evidence of wrongdoing that goes beyond Missouri’s charity laws.”

“Mr. Greitens obtained an electronic donor list created by The Mission Continues for that organization’s internal purposes,” Hawley said. “Mr. Greitens used that list for political fundraising; he transmitted that list for political fundraising without permission of The Mission Continues.”

House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty ripped into Richardson’s decisions, saying that he decided to pursue criminal charges against protesters in the Senate gallery—twenty-two religious leaders were arrested and charged, by Richardson, with criminal trespassing in May 2014 during Medicaid expansion demonstrations at the capitol—but not Greitens.

“Two years ago, Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson aggressively prosecuted a group of elderly black pastors for singing hymns in the Senate,” said McCann Beatty. “Today, he announced that he can’t be bothered to pursue charges against a Republican governor accused of actual crimes. Mr. Richardson clearly has difficulty assessing threats to the integrity of state government.”

Of course, as with all political wheelings and dealings, there’s more to this story.

Here’s what you need to know about this prosecuting attorney.

Richardson, a Republican, was first elected to his current post in 2006. His law career started at the Missouri Attorney General’s Office in 1984 under Republican state AG John David Ashcroft, who was later appointed the 79th U.S. Attorney General by George W. Bush.

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson gavels the chamber to order at the start of a special legislative session Friday, May 18, in Jefferson City, Mo. The House convened the special session to consider whether to initiate impeachment proceedings against Republican Gov. Eric Greitens. | Jeff Roberson / AP

Richardson’s wife currently works for State Rep. Bill White, a Republican, who is one of the few legislators to not call for Greitens’s resignation. White’s wife, Dr. Margaret “Ellen” Nichols, was appointed to the State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts. The position isn’t paid, other than a $50 per diem for time spent working at the board.

As a prosecuting attorney, Richardson has gone before the Circuit Court of Cole County in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit in the State of Missouri, and was found guilty in 2017 of violating the state’s sunshine laws.

Circuit Court Judge Patrica Joyce wrote in her 20-page opinion that Richardson had “knowingly and purposefully violated the Sunshine Law” in denying a plaintiff’s public records request.

Joyce’s opinion continued, saying, “Nevertheless, the record before this court shows that the Defendant [Richardson] intentionally chose, with full knowledge of the consequences [as a licensed attorney], not even to look for the documents related to the plaintiff’s public records request, much less produce any responsive documents.”

Richardson was ordered to produce the records and paid $12,000 in damages.

He’s up for re-election this year and faces a Republican challenger.

Seems to me there are quite a few ethical questions raised here, and quite a few R’s behind each player’s name.

One would hope that such glaring facts would force state legislators to take an in-depth look at this prosecuting attorney’s background, along with those of his political and financial backers.

This is Missouri though, a state dominated by elected Republicans who would, I believe, sell out their own mothers if it meant staying in office and ramming through their disastrous bills hurting workers, people of color, women, the disabled community, and countless more—prove me wrong R’s.

This announcement capped off a busy political week, and came hours before the Missouri lawmakers convened in a special session to consider the possible impeachment of Greitens.


CONTRIBUTOR

Al Neal
Al Neal

Al Neal is a sports columnist for People’s World writing on politics, labor relations, and the general rabble-rousing in professional sports. He spent a decade working in the trade union movement with various locals across the country and currently serves as Dir. of Education and Advocacy for the St. Louis Workers’ Education Society. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Sports Media Association, National Society for Newspaper Columnists and the NewsGuild, Neal’s work and reporting has been featured in the Labor-TribuneBuzzfeed NewsRussia Today (RT)Sputnik News Wire, and Getty Images. More words at GrandStand Central.

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